Affirmations for the Anxious Soul

A note to self on navigating some rainy days, to get to the sunnier ones by Ishi Shandilya, Junior Strategist

Dentsu Webchutney
5 min readNov 10, 2021
Illustration credits: Vaibhav Vidyadhar

Stories often tend to start at the beginning; new day, new context. Like fresh dew on grass, or a steaming cup of tea in the morning. It’s no crime, to begin with something unwritten or un-sculpted, as it gives you a clean slate to make whatever you will, of it.

However, I believe in order to do justice to this theme, I must reel back to the evening before the fresh start, which may make a day not so fresh. It’s the hesitance to get out of bed, leading you to miss the dew at sunrise; the baggy eyes gripping the cup of tea in their strained sight.

It’s this evening when you promise you’re going to work hard to make a new week better than the last. And then wind up in the same cycle of berating your sleep, productivity, and peace of mind.

This is what it looks like for me. It may have a different face for you — maybe one that you recognize & dread, or have overcome. But in most of our cases, we might not even know what that tummy-sinking, mind-numbing, awfully confusing feeling is all about. It’s just there.

I had read somewhere that in the era of Industrialization, people knew when they were working, and when they weren’t. That’s because you could not work in the absence of your factories and your equipment. But today, your brain is your factory and your equipment. Even as much as the mere thought of the next project, a deadline or an idea counts as work. The question is, do we register it?

I cannot solve this conundrum for you, as I’m still learning to do it for myself, and haven’t quite gotten the hang of it. What I do know though, is sometimes undoing precedes doing. And so, I’m here to share a few titbits of undoing that if I echo enough times, will get me to act on it, and may help you ponder too.

1. It’s okay to be your own critique, but don’t starve yourself from the chance of improvement.
Squash the nay-saying voice in your head that crashes your brain before you even try something. Even Anton Ego gave Gusteau’s a chance, and the Ratatouille he ate blew his mind. You have a Remy in you. Give him a chance.

2. Let the phenomenon of not being the smartest person in the room excite you more than it intimidates you.
This may take a little work, but I swear it’s worth it. Know that you cannot have answers before the questions are asked, and get up to ask them. You may find them silly, but someone else in the room is sighing with relief because there’s one less question mark in their mind. You did it for yourself and them, both. And if it really was a stupid question, you’ve learned what not to do the next time, perhaps in an even bigger room. Trust me, it’s a win.

This brings me to my next point.

3. Making mistakes is more important than you think.
In a spontaneous conversation about a month ago, my boss’s boss said to me, “Mistakes will teach you more than a boss ever will”. A good boss will let you make these mistakes. All you have to do is try not to repeat them. It takes time, but make avoiding these mistakes your instinct, and soon you’ll realize you’ve grown.

4. Set your priorities by having outlets outside of work, study or whatever your programmed activity is.
I call them my NATCOs or not-at-the-cost-of. For example, my priority is health, and exercising may be an important activity in my day. My work, therefore, should not-come-at-the-cost-of my hour of exercise. Be it changing my day’s schedule or blocking my calendar during that hour, I will take that time to reset and stay in the “now exercising” part of my head, and not in the “at work” part.

5. Think of what makes you happy, and pursue it to find what’s at the center of you.
It could be a habit, activity, person, or ideology. For me, it’s conversations with my sister or partner. They are my conduit to new perspectives, a great deal of laughter, and sometimes the support that I’m unable to give myself. They make me realize who I am at the core — an empathetic person who’s forever giving. It also helps me course correct so that I don’t de-prioritize my needs in the process.

Our new starts & fresh beginnings cannot find a place if our plates are full already. We have to make room for them, by letting something go. We undo something, to do something new.

Undo over self-critiquing. Do allow chances of improvement.
Undo needing to be the smartest. Do ask questions, in order to learn & get there gradually.
Undo stifling yourself over mistakes you made. Do let them teach you to be better.
Undo giving up opportunities to reset. Do stand up to yourself and do what you like doing. Stay at it.
Undo not peeking into yourself. Do find ways tailored for you, and keep revisiting what makes you, you. Be one with it.

Much love.

PS: A big thank you to Vaibhav, for the lovely illustrations!